Ah, I remember it like it was only yesterday.
Initiate dreamy recollection. (Possibly in black and white, because why not.)
Getting off the school bus and running home as fast as we could, dumping our stuff in a pile by the front door and plopping down in front of the television. Toonami was on Cartoon Network, and Dragon Ball Z was bringing the late 90’s anime awesomeness. Going Super Saiyan on my younger siblings and getting yelled at by my parents, ah yes, those were the days…
Whoa, okay. No more nostalgic flashbacks, I promise. Let’s talk about that DBZ movie! For those of you who were out of the loop, or maybe training in a hyperbolic time chamber or something, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ got a limited theatrical release here in the States. Funimation handled the English dub and distribution for North America, with screenings initially planned from August 4th to the 12th, but with an encore run extended through the 17th in some locations.
This time around, arguably the most iconic villain in the franchise is resurrected with the help of the Dragon Balls and some fancy regeneration tech. Frieza is back!
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
I must say, the depiction of Earth’s hell is truly chilling. The movie opens on Frieza being tormented by adorable creatures of unspeakable cuteness in a world that is just so… pleasant… Oh, I shudder thinking about it!
Lucky for Frieza, former lieutenant Sorbet is bent on returning the Frieza Force to its former glory, and he starts by reviving its former leader. I thought it was a little odd that Shenron couldn’t bring fully restore Frieza, but just go with it.
At this point, the anticipation was building and the tension was palpable. The build-up for the epic showdown is the bread and butter of the franchise. Frieza in a regeneration chamber with Maximum the Hormone’s “F” rocking in the background. (Any Death Note fans in the house?) I couldn’t have been the only one head-banging in the theater.
There were a ton of guest appearances from characters throughout the DBZ universe here. Almost to the point where it felt like they were just checking boxes of appearing characters. Over the years the cast of characters has grown absolutely immense, so it’s understandably difficult to choose cameos that would benefit the story and who would be superfluous. That is except for Android 18, because I would have been SO disappointed if she wasn’t in the movie. What 18 and I had was special. Um, I mean. Never mind. No, I don’t want to talk about it.
I really appreciate the fact that the characters felt genuine to the way I remember them. Goku, lighthearted and merciful to a fault. Vegeta, the lovable a-hole. The two Saiyans bickering over who’s turn it was to punch Frieza in the face. And there is plenty of face-punching to be had, it is a DBZ movie after all, but for me that wasn’t the real draw. Where this movie really shines is in capturing the essence of those characters we came to know and love on that old standard-definition TV screen.
“But Jory,” you say, “I don’t have the nostalgic feelz for DBZ. Will I still enjoy this movie?”
I’d say, most emphatically, definitely, maybe. Even if you’ve never seen an episode of Dragon Ball Z, there’s still plenty of good laughs, fast-hitting action, and sufficient character explanation to enable anyone to understand what’s going on and enjoy the ride. Not that you’ve ever needed a Ph.D to understand what’s going on in the Dragon Ball universe.
My wife was quick to point out that the ending felt anticlimactic and abrupt. As we’ve seen before so many times, most of the top tier Z fighters and villains have destroyed a planet or two when fighting, but the way that Whis so casually rewound time didn’t feel that satisfying. But this isn’t her review. And what does she know anyway? She married me, so clearly her decision-making is questionable at best. (Love you hun.)
The “limited release” strategy by Funimation was a very conservative move. I’m honestly not surprised that the release was extended in some theaters. The figures floating around say the film brought in around $8 million in the US. That places it near the bottom of the top ten highest-grossing anime films to date, but when compared to any of the Pokémon movies it doesn’t quite match up. However, it is still impressive when you take into account the relatively small number of theaters that screened the film.
What did you think? Was it a light-hearted dip into the nostalgia pool that was easily forgotten? Did it reignite that love for the Z fighters that you had long ago? Or are you new to the genre and cultivating your new-found passion for animated martial arts (and face punching)?
Tell us! We want to know!